Nov 032021
 
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John Ross, New York Giants (November 1, 2021)

John Ross – © USA TODAY Sports

QUICK RECAP

Week 8 brought NYG to Kansas City on a Monday night where the Chiefs entered 50-19 as home favorites under Head Coach Andy Reid since his tenure began there in 2013. The high-flying Chiefs have been the hottest flavor in the NFL, earning 2 straight Super Bowl appearances and 41 wins since the start of 2018. Since the start of 2015, NYG has 37 wins. 2021, however, has been a different story for last-place KC. They entered the contest 3-4 while leading the league in turnovers and near the league lead in penalties. And that wasn’t even the most glaring in-house issue. The Chiefs defense ranked dead last in the NFL in yards allowed per play. This was a “get right” game for the Chiefs while NYG was still sending out a roster full of injuries to key players.

The game began as expected. KC marching down the field chunk by chunk with minimal resistance from the Giants defense. They picked up 5 first downs with a healthy mix of run and pass but stalled once inside the NYG 10. Mahomes tried an odd-looking jump pass as their 3rd down play broke down and absolutely gunned it at Josh Gordon. It bounced off of him, another KC player, and into the hands of safety Julian Love. NYG had the early momentum. It lasted 1 play.

Daniel Jones stared down Darius Slayton on a slant pattern, giving KC Willie Gay the avenue to intercept the ball right back. Starting at the NYG 13, KC needed just 4 plays to net a touchdown on a pass from Mahomes to Tyreek Hill. KC had the early lead. The two teams traded scoreless possessions but as the 1st quarter came to an end, Jones hit John Ross III for a 50-yard gain. The next 2 plays gained another 30-combined yards and the Giants, the worst red zone offense in the league, found themselves with a first down from the KC 6-yard line. They made 5 yards in 3 plays, and it was a no-brainer to keep that offense on the field to try and tie the game up. Tie the game up is what they did on a 1-yard pass to Kyle Rudolph.

Both teams went 3-and-out on their next respective drives before KC put together another lengthy, death-by-a-million paper cuts scoring series. Derrick Gore ended it with a 3-yard touchdown run. With the game at 10-7 and halftime approaching, NYG got their offensive flow back on the back of Jones, who either threw or ran with the ball on each play. They made it all the way down to the KC 5-yard line but with-it being 4th and 2, Joe Judge opted for a field goal. It was an odd decision. A couple series prior, Judge kept the offense on the field for a 4th-and-goal attempt from the 1-yard line, they were down 7. This time? NYG needed 2 yards to continue the drive, they were down 7. So, the ball being 3 feet further away was the only different factor and it was the factor that pushed Judge toward going for 3. Odd decision that, to be honest, lacks true logic. Graham Gano hit the 23-yarder to get within 4.

After stopping KC once more, NYG got the ball back with 1:36 left. Because they had no timeouts left for some reason, they watched valuable time dwindle off of the clock via 3 complete passes that gained a total of 11 yards. 1:11 came off the clock (:25 left), but they were close to midfield. There would be a shot to get more points on the board if they executed. Over the next 16 seconds, Will Hernandez was flagged for a false start, Nate Solder was flagged for a hold, and Jones was flagged for a delay of game. Ladies and Gentlemen, the 2021 New York Giants.

The second half began with three uneventful drives. KC’s second offensive drive, however, saw them gaining first down after first down again. They shot themselves in the foot again, this time with a Travis Kelce fumble. James Bradberry scooped it up and returned it just shy of midfield. Here was the break NYG needed to right the ship. NYG gained four 1st down themselves and on the second play of the 4th quarter, Jones hit Evan Engram for a 5-yard touchdown. NYG was winning 17-14.

Yet another long drive by KC followed, this one 14 plays deep. The NYG defense stayed intact, however, keeping the home team to a 36-yard field goal which tied it up at 17. NYG was in good position against the worst defense in the NFL to take time off the clock and put more points on the board. Two big mistakes by NYG, however, reminded all who were watching that this team finds ways to lose games. A 15-yard taunting penalty by Elijhaa Penny and a drop by Darius Slayton prevented them from continuing the drive until at least reaching field goal territory.

KC, a team that does know how to find ways to win, took that change of possession and turned it into a game-winning 3 points. 9 plays took 3:34 off the clock and they were fortunate Oshane Ximines barely jumped offsides (which did not impact the play) because Mahomes threw an interception on that play to Darnay Holmes. KC brilliantly bled the clock and took away NYG’s timeouts. They were left with 1:07, no way to stop the clock, and 75 yards to go. The offensive line completely faltered and NYG had no shot at getting even close to being close to field goal range.

NYG loses 20-17.

QUARTERBACK

-Daniel Jones: 22/33 – 222 yards / 2 TD – 1 INT / 96.1 RAT

Jones had an up and down night. The interception just 2 plays after the Mahomes interception was an absolute killer. He gave up his intended passing target immediately post snap without checking off the linebacker. He was also off on two third-down throws where he had an open target. The touchdown pass to Engram, however, late in the game to take the lead was a big time, elite-level throw. Very tough window and ball placement to hit with little margin for error. The offensive line got leaky in the second half, and it prevented him from stepping into his throws in addition to rushing his progressions. Chalk this one up to a middle-tier performance that did not push the needle in any direction in regard to his long-term status with NYG.

RUNNING BACK

-Devontae Booker: 15 att – 60 yards / 5 rec – 65 yards

125 yards on 20 touches is a very solid performance for the 6th-year pro. He ground out a few tough runs where he fell forward, pushing piles and created with the ball in space. He is a very limited athlete, though. A few occasions he had some green to work with, made a nice cutback, but did not have the juice to finish it off. Booker also made a couple of nice blocks in pass protection again.

WIDE RECEIVER

-Overall, it was a poor night for the position group. Sterling Shepard went down in the 2nd quarter with a quad injury. Multiple soft tissues injuries to a receiver in just a few weeks are bad news. Based on how he reacted, looking like something “popped,” we may not be seeing him for a while. At the time of this writing, I have not seen a report yet.

-Kadarius Toney, also coming off a game missed because of injury, was on the field for just over half the plays. He hurt his thumb in the second half but he came back on the field toward the end. He is a tough, hard-nosed kid who you can tell really wants to be on the field competing. He completed a 19-yard pass and caught 4 passes for 26 yards.

-John Ross III led the team with 72 yards on just 2 catches. He caught a 50-yard pass while fighting off a pass interference. His second catch went for 22 yards and even though he body-caught it, I came away with thought he needs to leapfrog Darius Slayton on the depth chart. Slayton out-snapped Ross 52 to 16 and Slayton walked away with 2 targets, 0 catches, and 1 drop. The two nearly have the same yards (Slayton 190 / Ross 189), but Ross has seen 9 less targets. Jones also appears to have more rapport with Ross from what I can see as well.

TIGHT END

-Evan Engram and Kyle Rudolph both caught touchdowns. They combined for 5 catches and 25 yards on 7 targets, hardly noteworthy. The trade deadline has now passed, and Engram remains with the team unfortunately. I would love to find out what teams were speaking with NYG about him and what offers were put on the table. I don’t see a future with NYG and him being together.

OFFENSIVE LINE

-The NYG offensive line graded out well for most of the game, but really started to fall apart toward the end. The KC pass rush has arguably been the worst in the NFL this season (hence the trade for Ingram they just made) and it played that way against NYG for the most part.

-On the outside, Matt Peart manned the left tackle spot for the injured Andrew Thomas again. He allowed a half-sack on the final play and 1 pressure. Nate Solder allowed 1 pressure and was flagged for a hold. It was an above average grade for both, but their mishaps occurred at key moments of the game which could create a false, negative perception of their overall game.

-All three interior linemen allowed a tackle behind the line of scrimmage. Matt Skura allowed a half-sack and a pressure, Will Hernandez allowed a sack and a pressure in addition to being flagged for a false start, and Billy Price allowed a TFL. KC has some decent players between the tackles and I think this trio did a fine job against them. All are considered “power” blockers though, and none of them got any sort of push at the point-of-attack in the running game.

DEFENSIVE LINE

-Leonard Williams continues to play at an elite level among interior defensive linemen in this league. He added 6 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 sack, and forced a fumble. One thing I admire most about his game is how often he can be moved around alignment-wise, but still perform at a high level. Some defensive linemen struggle when they’re moving left to right and/or outside to inside. Not Williams. He is such a weapon up front and is producing at a high level.

-Austin Johnson has been the second-best lineman on this team, I’ll say it now after 8 games. He added 2 tackles, 2 TFL, and 1 pressure. Is that an indictment on Dexter Lawrence? Not really. He finished with 4 tackles. Johnson has exceeded expectations by a long shot and Lawrence’s performance is consistent. He isn’t disappointing, but he isn’t playing the way one would want 1st rounder to.

LINEBACKERS

-Tae Crowder is getting the opportunity of a lifetime with Blake Martinez out, and overall, he is not coming through. The speed is stand out and he plays a physical brand, but his reactions are behind, and he is making poor decisions on the fly. He was flagged for a dumb personal foul in the 4th quarter while NYG was up by 3, putting KC into field goal range. He was flagged later on for a 15-yard face mask penalty on the game winning drive; however it was a bad call by the refs. He finished with 7 tackles.

-With Lorenzo Carter out, Quincy Roche played 62% of the snaps while Oshane Ximines played just 22%. If that isn’t an indictment on Ximines and his future here, I don’t know what is. Roche was the best edge presence on the team in this game, finishing with 3 tackles, 1 TFL, and 1 pressure. Ximines did add 1 tackle and a pressure as well.

-Azeez Ojulari was neutralized most of the night. He did add a TFL and 2 tackles. The rookie now has made 7 plays behind the line of scrimmage in 8 games. One thing I see with his pass rush that will need to eventually change is the accuracy and power from his hands. There isn’t enough juice there when he gets engaged with the blocker. He is active, plays low and sturdy, and will get slippery to blockers but he needs more contribution from his hands.

CORNERBACK

-Adoree’ Jackson was one of the stars of the game for NYG. He did an excellent job against Tyreek Hill, arguably the most dangerous playmaker in football. He had 12 tackles and 2 PD. Mahomes wanted to go Hill’s way downfield multiple times, but Jackson stuck to him well. Jackson should have had an interception on one of the deep attempts, but simply mistimed his leap for the ball.

-James Bradberry had 4 tackles, 1 PD, and fumble recovery. They matched him up on tight end Travis Kelce, the top player at his position in the league, and the cornerback neutralized him for most of the night. This was one of the least productive games in Kelce’s career, and while it wasn’t just Bradberry, he was a huge part of it.

-Darnay Holmes was on the field for 54 plays (including special teams), a season high. He had a 4th-quarter interception nullified by an offsides penalty. Unfortunate occurrence, as it was an impressive play on the ball, a play that I feel Holmes really needs to make. Over his 20 games in the league, we have seen way more negatives than positives by a long shot but there is something about him. I still believe in his potential and I like his competitiveness, but he needs to make a few more plays to see his confidence get to where it needs to be.

-Aaron Robinson saw his first NFL action after spending time on the PUP list. He only saw 9 snaps and I don’t have much to report. He looked a bit unsure and out of position, but it didn’t hurt the defense. Curious to see how they work him into the rather deep defensive back rotation.

SAFETY

-Logan Ryan and Xavier McKinney both played every snap on defense. McKinney appears to be catching on mentally over the past 2-3 weeks. His play speed in notably picking up. Next, we need to see better angles. He had 6 tackles. Ryan added 9 tackles and forced the Kelce fumble that Bradberry recovered. He is a really good player who would be appreciated more if this were a good team.

-Julian Love came up with the deflected interception on the game’s opening drive. He also allowed a touchdown later on.

SPECIAL TEAMS

-K Graham Gano: 1/1 (Made 23)

-P Riley Dixon: 5 Punts / 43.0 avg – 43.0 net. Dixon’s most crucial punt of the night resulted in just 34 yards. A prime opportunity to pin KC near the end zone was anything but. Dixon ranks 21st in yards per punt, 23rd in net average, 19th in punts inside the 20, and is tied for the 4th most touchbacks. He is having a terrible year.

3 STUDS

-CB Adoree’ Jackson, DT Leonard Williams, RB Devontae Booker

3 DUDS

-LB Tae Crowder, WR Darius Slayton, P Riley Dixon

3 THOUGHTS ON KC

(1) Is the league starting to figure out how to play against this KC offense? Head Coach Andy Reid is one of the best offensive minds in the game and he is as innovative as anyone. He excels at changing things up, keeping his quarterback in a simple-read offense, and spreading the ball out. How come they aren’t gaining yards and scoring the way we have seen in previous years? Well, they’re still top 10 in points and top 5 in yards. It would be nice to consider that an “off” year. I think the slight step backward has more to do with the KC offense feeling more pressure than in years past. They have allowed the 25th most points in the league and allow the most yards per play. Mahomes is pressing, running around when he doesn’t need to, and taking unnecessary risks. Remember, he is still in that QB maturation phase even though some have already sent him to Canton.

(2) KC traded for OLB Melvin Ingram. What I hope this does, for their sake, is move Chris Jones back inside to play in the B and A gaps. That is where he has been a dominant force but for whatever reason, they have shifted him to a more 5-technique role on the outside. What made him forceful was how uncomfortable he made QBs who tried to step up in the pocket. He is massive and nimble. He just doesn’t impact the game as much from the outside.

(3) Tyreek Hill is the scariest player in football. Aside from what I think of him and the story about hitting his kid, I think he is the one guy who can change a passing game with his mere presence more so than anyone else. It is rare to find his (literally) world class speed. It is rare to find the kind of stop-and-go agility he possesses. Hill has both and what never gets talked about his how well he sees the field and anticipates angles. He is a free agent after next season.

3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

(1) The Giants next play a game on short rest against a 1st-place team coming off a bye. That is a tough draw, one that schedule makers should have seen. LV has seen a ton of adversity off the field this season with Jon Gruden parting ways (no, it was not mutual) with the organization. And the latest story about Henry Ruggs III killing someone in a DUI accident will only further distract this team. I have been woefully impressed with how the team responded to the Gruden situation and their next test will be here against NYG without their top deep threat.

(2) At or near the top of the NYG wish list this offseason will be another outside pass rusher to pair with Ojulari, the NFL rookie leader in sacks, and the versatile Williams. However, Quincy Roche is now in the spotlight, and I am curious to see if NYG may have possibly caught some lightning in a bottle here. I wasn’t too high on him in the draft (graded as a 5th rounder and 18th overall edge defender), but he has caught my eye numerous times. Between him and the rookie Elerson Smith (remember him?), there are plenty of snaps to zero in on regarding this spot.

(3) With the salary cap concerns NYG has coming up in the next 2-3 years, the trio of Lorenzo Carter, Evan Engram, and Will Hernandez need to woefully impress over the next 8-9 weeks to even be in the discussion for a second contract. In my eyes their roster spots and production can be filled with future rookie contracts and players that have fresher legs and more long-term upside.

Nov 022021
 
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Daniel Jones, New York Giants (November 1, 2021)

Daniel Jones – © USA TODAY Sports

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS 20 – NEW YORK GIANTS 17…
The New York Giants lost a tough game to the Kansas City Chiefs on Monday night at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. With the loss, the Giants fall to 2-6 on the season.

The Chiefs held most of the team statistical advantages in the contest, out-gaining the Giants in first downs (29 to 18), total net yards (368 to 300), net yards rushing (107 to 72), net yards passing (261 to 228), and time of possession (34:38 to 25:22). Both teams were penalized heavily, the Giants being penalized 10 times for 88 yards and the Chiefs 12 times for 103 yards. The Giants won the turnover battle 2 to 1.

The Chiefs received the ball to start the game and promptly marched down the field 70 yards in 12 plays. But on 3rd-and-goal from the 5-yard line, quarterback Patrick Mahomes’ pass into the end zone was deflected and intercepted by safety Julian Love. The turnaround was short lived, however, as quarterback Daniel Jones was intercepted just two plays later, the ball being returned to the New York 13-yard line. Four plays after that, on 3rd-and-goal from the 6-yard line, Mahomes threw a touchdown pass to wide receiver Tyreek Hill. Chiefs 7 – Giants 0.

After both teams exchanged punts, the Giants finally began moving the ball on their third drive of the game. New York marched 85 yards in nine plays to tie the contest at 7-7 when Jones hit tight end Kyle Rudolph for a touchdown on 4th-and-goal from the 1-yard line. The big play on this possession was a 50-yard bomb to wideout John Ross. That was followed up by a 19-yard pass from wide receiver Kadarius Toney to fellow wide receiver Sterling Shepard.

Both teams exchanged punts again, but now it was Kansas City that put points on the board with an 11-play, 68-yard possession that resulted in a 3-yard touchdown run by running back Derrick Gore. The Giants responded with an 8-play, 86-yard drive that unfortunately stalled in the redzone. The big play on this drive was a 41-yard pass by Jones to running back Devontae Booker, combined with a roughing-the-passer penalty. New York settled for a 23-yard field goal by place kicker Graham Gano.

Neither team scored on their final possessions before intermission. At the half, the Chiefs led 14-10.

The Giants only gained one total first down on their first two drives of the 3rd quarter, punting twice. The Chiefs also punted once. Momentum began to change on Kansas City’s second possession of the half. After picking up four first downs and reaching the New York 28-yard line, the Chiefs were first pushed back with a holding penalty. Two plays later, safety Logan Ryan forced tight end Trave Kelce to fumble. Cornerback James Bradberry picked up the loose ball and returned it 13 yards to the New York 43-yard line. Eight plays after that, Jones threw a perfect pass to tight end Evan Engram for the go-ahead score on 3rd-and-4 from the 5-yard line. The Giants now led 17-14 early in the 4th quarter.

The Chiefs responded with a 14-play, 57-yard drive that set up a game-tying 36-yard field goal with just under 9 minutes to play. The Giants attempted to regain the lead, picking up two first downs, but were stopped at their own 42-yard line and forced to punt. The Chiefs got the ball back with 4:41 left to play. After a holding penalty, on 2nd-and-20, Mahomes threw a pass that was intercepted by cornerback Darnay Holmes at the Kansas City 34-yard line. However, linebacker Oshane Ximines was offsides on the play. Then on 2nd-and-15, Kelce caught a 14-yard pass and linebacker Tae Crowder was flagged with a bogus 15-yard face-mask penalty, moving the ball to near midfield. The Chiefs eventually reached the redzone, where they settled for the game-winning, 34-yard field goal with just over a minute left to play.

The Giants had one more shot to tie or win the game, but Jones was sacked twice, including on 4th-and-15 to end the game.

Jones finished the game 22-of-32 for 222 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception. He was also sacked three times. His leading receiver was Booker, who caught five passes for 65 yards. Booker also ran the ball 15 times for 60 yards.

The Giants’ defense generated two sacks (defensive Leonard Williams and cornerback Keion Crossen), five tackles for losses, forced two fumbles (Williams and Ryan), recovered one fumble (Bradberry), and picked off one pass (Love).

Video highlights are available at Giants.com.

ROSTER MOVES, PRACTICE SQUAD ACTIVATIONS, INACTIVES, AND INJURY REPORT…
The Giants signed S Steven Parker to the 53-man roster from the Practice Squad. CB Aaron Robinson was activated from the Reserve/Physically-Unable-to-Perform (PUP) List. The team also placed LB Carter Coughlin on Injured Reserve with an ankle injury that he suffered in practice last week.

The Giants also elevated LB Trent Harris and LB Benardrick McKinney to the 53-man roster from the Practice Squad.

Inactive for the game were RB Saquon Barkley (ankle), WR Kenny Golladay (knee), LB Lorenzo Carter (ankle), S Nate Ebner (ankle), NT Danny Shelton, and S J.R. Reed.

WR Sterling Shepard (quad) and WR Dante Pettis (shoulder) were injured in the first half and did not return. WR Kadarius Toney (thumb) was also injured.

POST-GAME REACTION…
Transcripts and video clips of post-game media sessions with Head Coach Joe Judge and the following players are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
Head Coach Joe Judge and select players will address the media by conference call on Tuesday.

Oct 302021
 
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Daniel Jones, New York Giants (October 24, 2021)

Daniel Jones – © USA TODAY Sports

THE STORYLINE:
To put it mildly, this season has been incredibly frustrating for New York Giants fans. Expectations were raised by an unforeseen active free agency signing period combined with what originally appeared to be a solid draft, both of which seemed to address major weaknesses at the offensive skill positions and in the back seven on defense. Things went awry early with key draft picks Kadarius Toney (1st round), Aaron Robinson (3rd round), and Elerson Smith (4th round) missing all of training camp. Kenny Golladay and Adoree’ Jackson both got hurt, missed a lot of time, and have yet to make the impact expected of them. Most importantly, the Achilles’ heel of the team for the past decade – the offensive line – started to decompose as unexpected retirements combined with major, season-ending (Shane Lemieux, Nick Gates) and nagging, game-missing (Andrew Thomas, Ben Bredeson) injuries. It also hasn’t help that Matt Peart hasn’t progressed as quickly as hoped.

Despite all of this, it was expected that the supposedly up-and-coming defense would keep the Giants in games. It didn’t. Until last weekend, the defense horribly regressed, especially giving up dagger-to-the-heart drives at seemingly the worst moments. Injuries also became a factor with season enders to team leaders Blake Martinez and now Jabrill Peppers. The loss of youngster Rodarius Williams didn’t help matters either.

The net effect of all of this was the team began the season 0-3, including losing two very winnable games against Atlanta and Washington. When hope was all but extinguished, the Giants pulled fans back in with their dramatic and unexpected upset of the Saints in New Orleans. The positivity generated by that victory quickly disappeared by all-around ass-kickings by the clearly superior Cowboys (44-20) and Rams (38-11).

The one-sided victory over the Carolina Panthers in Week 7 was a pleasant surprise. The effort was led by a defense that finally played to the level that was expected of it entering the season.

Which brings us to Week 8, and a Monday night contest against the defending AFC Champion Kansas City Chiefs, a team only two years removed from an NFL Championship. Entering the season, this match-up was expected to be an automatic loss for the Giants. However, the 3-4 Chiefs have only won one more game than the 2-5 Giants. So there has been some talk among Giants fans that maybe, just maybe, New York has a chance in this game.

I’m not buying the Kool-Aid. Perhaps if the Giants were anywhere near full strength with Saquon Barkley, Kenny Golladay, Andrew Thomas, Nick Gates, Blake Martinez, and Jabrill Peppers playing, I would give them a shot. But this is a very proud and now desperate KC team that is still 3rd in the NFL in total offense. And it’s not Sam Darnold who the Giants will be facing but all-world Patrick Mahomes. The game is in Kansas City, one of the very toughest places to play in the NFL. The clincher? It’s a Monday night game. The Giants are horrific on Monday night, always have been.

THE INJURY REPORT:

  • RB Saquon Barkley (ankle – out)
  • WR Kenny Golladay (knee – out)
  • WR Sterling Shepard (hamstring – questionable)
  • WR Kadarius Toney (ankle – questionable)
  • TE Evan Engram (calf – probable)
  • TE Kaden Smith (knee – questionable)
  • NT Danny Shelton (pectoral – probable)
  • LB Lorenzo Carter (ankle – out)
  • LB Carter Coughlin (ankle – out)
  • S Nate Ebner (ankle – out)

NEW YORK GIANTS ON OFFENSE:
I hate using injuries as an excuse. For one, it is a loser’s lament. Secondly, you know there those inside Mara Tech who think all would be peachy if the team was only healthy. This is not true as the team was sucking ass before the injury bug hit in full force.

That all said, this game would be far more interesting if Barkley and Golladay were playing, Kadarius Toney and Sterling Shepard were near full strength, and Nate Solder wasn’t starting. Why? Because the Chiefs are an embarrassing 28th in yards allowed and 27th in points allowed. And they are not making it up by generating turnovers (only seven takeaways all year, or one per game).

The Giants have not cracked the 30-point barrier this season. It’s hard to see them winning this game unless they near and probably surpass that threshold. The problem the Giants have is the offensive line is still a patchwork unit due to all of the injuries, and their two top veteran play-makers (Barkley and Golladay) are not playing. To make matters worse, Toney and Shepard are nursing nagging injuries that will affect their quickness, the strength of their respective games.

I want to briefly discuss three issues:

(1) Daniel Jones. If you accept the fact that the New York Giants are not going to the Super Bowl this season, then the most important issue to watch is the fate of the starting quarterback. We are now in a tiresome cycle where media and fans are making sweeping statements after each and every win or loss. Those with an agenda will cherry-pick every play or little stat to justify their point of view. In recent weeks, it’s become a comical roller coaster as Jones has gone from “Player of the Week” to a four-turnover game to carrying an undermanned team on his back. The Jones supporters were justifiably thumping their chests after last Sunday’s game. The other side will be out in force if the Giants lose as expected on Monday night. In my opinion, the truly smart fans are sitting back and waiting. Waiting for what? The completion of the 17-game regular-season schedule. Because only then can you truly look at the big picture and truly answer the question, “Did Daniel Jones become a much better quarterback in his third season?” We can’t the forest through the trees right now. Keep that in mind before making grand statements.

(2) Everyone seems to be too focused on the passing game right now. This is odd for two reasons: (1) all – not some – of the team’s top receivers (Golladay, Shepard, Toney,  Slayton, Engram, and Barkley) have been hurt for a number of games now, and (2) the leading rusher on this team is the quarterback. The most disappointing element of this offensive football team is its lack of a ground game. How bad is it? Barkley is still second on the team in rushing (with just 195 yards) despite the fact that he has only played in three full games. Opposing defenses simply can ignore the run against the Giants, and that is putting tremendous pressure on an injury-plagued passing game. If it weren’t for Jones, the Giants would be dead last in the NFL in running the football. If you don’t think this is also a major factor in the red zone issues, then you’re fooling yourself.

(3) Evan Engram. The next game is on Monday. The trading deadline is on Tuesday. Engram is in the last year of his contract and will make over $6 million this year (highest base salary on the entire team and 7th highest cap hit on the team). He has 20 catches for 171 yards (8.5 yards per catch) and no touchdowns. Last year, he caught only one touchdown. These are embarrassingly bad numbers for a “receiving” tight end who doesn’t block very well. The unspoken truth is he is getting worse, not better. Engram may end up being a decent player in the NFL, but I doubt it will be here. It’s time to move him before he simply walks in free agency. I will say this – he can help himself and the Giants with a big game against the Chiefs. The Giants need him to play one of his best games for them to win, and a strong performance will increase his trade market on Tuesday.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON DEFENSE:
Why did the defense perform so well last Sunday? Sam Darnold isn’t very good. Christian McCaffrey didn’t play. Carolina has their own offensive line issues. Adoree’ Jackson finally had a good game. Xavier McKinney played better. James Bradberry made a big play to stop what would have been the 7th straight TD drive right before halftime. Leonard Williams and Azeez Ojulari gave Carolina’s OL fits. We also saw two newcomers at linebacker flash: Quincy Roche and Benardrick McKinney. It all added up to an impressive performance where Carolina was held to less than 200 yards of offense and just a field goal.

But Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs are another different animal altogether. In order to have a chance in this game, the defense will have to play at or probably surpass the level they did in Week 7. If they play like this did in Weeks 1-6, the Giants are going to get smoked. Everyone knows the problems with defending Mahomes. He’s a magician with the football in his hands, a guy who can elevate the play of everyone around him. Just when you think you have Mahomes dead to rights, he somehow keeps the play alive and throws a dart deep down field to break your back. The KC passing game is averaging over 300 yards per game alone. (That’s not total offense, just passing). They average another 118 on the ground, although like the Giants, much of this comes from the quarterback running the ball.

Mahomes’ main targets are very familiar to even the casual football watcher: explosive WR Tyreek Hill (52 catches for 641 yards and 5 touchdowns) and the dangerous TE Travis Kelce (45 catches for 533 yards and four touchdowns). Even those these are the two “big guys” to watch, Mahomes will spread the ball around to a plethora of other wide receivers, running backs, and tight ends. KC backs have caught 41 passes this year. (For the sake of comparison, the leading target on the Giants is Shepard, who has only 28 catches for 299 yards and one touchdown). The leading rusher is running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire, who averages 4.7 yards per carry. Mahomes is second, averaging 6.8 yards.

The key to stop the Chiefs is getting heat on Mahomes and playing tight coverage on his targets. That’s easier said than done as Mahomes can still kill you when a play breaks down. That said, teams have gotten in his face this year and because of that, he has looked more human. Leonard Williams, Dexter Lawrence, Danny Shelton, and Azeez Ojulari need to get after him. I would prefer to see Quincy Roche play more as a pass rusher this week as well. Against this opponent, the Giants are probably better off with Xavier McKinney playing over Jabrill Peppers, who is done for the season. Stating the obvious, both James Bradberry and Adoree’ Jackson need to play at the top of their game.

The real potential headache here is Kelce against a Giants’ linebacking corps that continues to have issues in coverage. Passes to the running backs could also be a problem. That’s where I expect Andy Reid to go with the ball early and often.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS:
Injuries are forcing changes to the return game. I think the desire is there to get Kadarius Toney to return both punts and kicks, but his tender ankle puts him at risk. The Giants will be without two of their top special teams players in this game as well: Carter Coughlin, who leads the team in special teams tackles, and Nate Ebner.

FROM THE COACH’S MOUTH:
Defensive Coordinator Patrick Graham on the Kansas City Chiefs’ offense:I can’t even begin to go down the list of all the different weapons they have. It’s numerous, plus they have the best player in the league at the quarterback spot. It’s hard, it’s going to be hard, and the best offensive minds between (Chiefs Head) Coach (Andy) Reid and (Offensive Coordinator) Coach (Eric) Bieniemy. It’s going to be a challenge. This is the most explosive offense, I think. I don’t know statistically, but if you just go off of SportsCenter in the last four years, they’re the most explosive offense, so it’s going to be a challenge. They’ve got good blockers, they’ve got good receivers. It’s going to be tough.”

THE FINAL WORD:
The defending AFC Champions are desperate, playing on their home field, on national television. Patrick Mahomes is still Patrick Mahomes. The Giants have been one of the NFL’s worst teams for years. Barring a miracle, the Chiefs will win.

But if the Giants somehow manage to pull off what would be the team’s biggest win in years, things could get interesting in the second half of the season. I’m not allowing myself to go there because this team hasn’t earned my trust.

Nov 222017
 
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Aldrick Rosas and Brad Wing, New York Giants (November 19, 2017)

Aldrick Rosas and Brad Wing – © USA TODAY Sports

New York Giants 12 – Kansas City Chiefs 9

RECAP

To this point of the 2017 season, there have been stretches where the Kansas City Chiefs appeared to be one of the top teams in the league with the Giants being one of the bottom feeders. However, KC has been faltering as of late, coming to East Rutherford with just 1 win since October 9. The winds were gusting and Chiefs Head Coach Andy Reid knows that can help bring any match-up closer together.

With Eli Apple inactive due to a coach’s decision, Ross Cockrell and Janoris Jenkins were the starters at cornerback. In addition, B.J. Goodson missed another game and the undrafted rookie Calvin Munson started in his place. The first quarter flew by, as both teams were keeping the clock moving via the run game and short passing. The Giants, in unorthodox fashion, showed aggression via trick plays on their first drive, one of which didn’t work out. They successfully ran a fake punt with Nat Berhe taking the direct snap and running up the middle. A few plays later, Shane Vereen took a toss to the outside that ended up being a halfback option pass. He had Evan Engram open, but the throw was a tad late and Chiefs safety Daniel Sorensen shot over for the interception near the end zone.

On the next possession, KC was starting to piece together another drive before a shovel pass to tight end Travis Kelce, a play that has been working well for them all year, brought Kelce right into the target of Jason Pierre Paul. An explosive hit and all of the sudden the ball popped into the air right into the waiting arms of Damon Harrison. Yes, 355-pound Damon Harrison. The Giants marched into the end zone just 7 plays later via an Orleans Darkwa 1-yard run, NYG’s 3rd rushing touchdown of the year. Kicker Aldrick Rosas missed the ensuing extra point thanks to one of the infamous gusts of wind the Meadowlands will occasionally provide.

KC then put together a 15-play drive that swallowed over 9 minutes of game clock. It resulted in a 31-yard field goal by Harrison Butker. The rest of the first half was uneventful, as we saw a combined three 3-and-outs. It was 6-3 as the third quarter began despite NYG having only totaled 93 total net yards to that point.

After the teams traded punts again, NYG put together a couple of nice plays and were knocking on the door for more points. On 3rd-and-7 from the KC 31-yard line, a Manning to Evan Engram pass that landed them at the 3-yard line was called back because of an offensive pass interference. Because of the wind, two plays later NYG had to go for it on 4th-and-9 from the 33, but the infamous short pass play that would have left Engram with no chance of reaching the first down marker fell to the ground and KC took over.

In a blink, at the beginning of the 4th quarter, KC was on the NYG 16-yard line with 1st-and-10 to go. They could only gain 3 more yards and had to settle for another 31-yard field goal, courtesy of Butker. The score was now tied at 6 with the NYG offense still sputtering.

After trading another pair of 3-and-outs again, NYG took a drive that started on their own 4-yard line and approached midfield with 1st down. A 9-yard gain was called back due to a holding penalty by Engram and a couple plays later John Jerry pushed them back even further with an unnecessary roughness penalty. The Giants were forced to punt the ball back to KC and the momentum was shifting.

On 1st-and-10 from their own 40, Andy Reid went into his own bag of tricks. Travis Kelce, one of the best overall athletes in the game and a former quarterback, received the ball and instead of darting downfield, launched a deep pass to Demarcus Robinson. The hesitation he initially showed gave Landon Collins enough time to reach his point and he came down with the ball on the NYG 14-yard line.

The Giants eventually punted the ball back to KC, but for the second straight possession, NYG intercepted KC, this time it was Alex Smith who threw the ball and Janoris Jenkins who came down with it. His 17-yard return set NYG up 1st-and-10 on the KC 23-yard line. The Giants did take one shot at the end zone, but they were forced into taking the simple 3 points via a 26-yard field goal by Rosas. Giants led 9-6 with under 2 minutes left.

The Giants appeared to have the game in the bag after Jenkins’s second interception in as many drives, but a pass interference penalty called it off. Alex Smith then took over the game, marching the Chiefs down the field with big-time throws and scrambling ability. His last-ditch effort to end the game via a rushng TD was cancelled by a physical downhill tackle by Landon Collins. KC tied the game with a second remaining, overtime was next.

KC put together a couple of quality plays, but a holding penalty set them back and they had to punt the ball to Eli Manning and the Giants. They put together a solid drive mixed with the run and the pass. On 4th-and-5 from the 36-yard line, Ben McAdoo had a tough decision to make. Let the strong-legged kicker Rosas go for the game-winner from 53? Or try to get a first down in a situation that has been beating them up all year, badly. He opted to put the ball in Manning’s hands and it resulted in a 34-yard gain down the left sideline. There, Roger Lewis made the catch of the year for NYG. After being interfered with by KC corner Phillip Gaines, he was laying on the ground but still managed to bring the ball in. The pass interference was declined and two plays later Rosas hit the first game-winner of his career from 23 yards. Giants win, 12-9.

QUARTERBACKS

  • Eli Manning: 19/35 – 205 yards. 0 TD/0 INT. While Alex Smith has had the better season statistically, the difference was apparent between him and Manning when it came to dealing with the wind. Smith looked very uncomfortable for the majority of the game while Manning’s experience in these situations rose to the occasion. He was the victim of 6 drops in this game, as well. Manning had 148 yards in the second half.

RUNNING BACKS

  • Orleans Darkwa: 20 att/74 yards – 1 TD – 2 rec/14 yards. Darkwa and this running game continue to improve each and every week. He isn’t a sexy back, but his constant ability to push the pile and fall forward doesn’t go unnoticed. His glaring issues that have been hurting this team over and over, however, are the drops. He had 2 more in this game.
  • Wayne Gallman: 6 att/19 yards – 1 rec 3 yards. Gallman had a drop of his own on a play that could have netted a lot of yards. He is the unofficial change of pace back who brings a different level of speed and explosion. One of these weeks he is going to break off a long touchdown, but he has to get and hold onto that ball.

WIDE RECEIVERS

  • Roger Lewis: 3 rec/55 yards. Lewis was relatively quiet until late in the game, but he responded with the catch of the year for NYG. The opportunity he has right now may never come again, and it will be interesting to see how he responds to late-game heroics. Was it a fluke? Right place, right time? There were a lot of teams drawn to this kid as an UDFA out of Bowling Green a couple years ago. The ball skills were a + park on everyone’s scouting report and his route running has improved mightily. I would be surprised if we didn’t see a slight uptick in his targets, which is hovering around 3 per game.
  • Tavarres King: 3 rec/48 yards. King has the veteran experience, intelligence, and toughness that Manning likes to work with. My college scouting report on him raved about his route running and it is something I see with him today. Very smooth, efficient mover and he can make the tough catch. His lack of physical presence and strength does limit him against certain coverages and situations, however.
  • Travis Rudolph: 3 rec/34 yards: The most targeted receiver Sunday, Rudolph played a career-high 27 snaps. He displayed what we already know about him – reliable hands, ball skills, and route running. But he really struggles to get himself open against quality man coverage.

TIGHT ENDS

  • Evan Engram: 1 rec/9 yards. Engram is the feature pass catcher in this offense. He was targeted 6 times but only came down with the ball once. He dropped 2 passes and also was responsible for 2 penalties. As a blocker, he graded out at the “average” mark. However, he got a lot of movement on Darkwa’s touchdown run.
  • Rhett Ellison: 1 rec/7 yards. Ellison has really helped this running game buckle down and control the point-of-attack. His impact is quiet in the box score, but don’t overlook his importance.

OFFENSIVE LINE

  • Tackles: I won’t overreact to one start, especially at home, but the performance Chad Wheeler put together in his first NFL start at right tackle was enough to excite anyone. He was borderline flawless and put together one of the top 5 grades overall of all the OLs on this team in 2017. It was the best RT grade I have on the year, including the ones Justin Pugh started. One game isn’t enough to make any strong statements, but he did everything right. His confidence and decision-making were on a different level from what we saw in preseason and his limited regular-season snaps. He got plenty of movement on guys much bigger and stronger than him with almost perfect technique and timing. Ereck Flowers had another quiet game, in a good way. He stayed on the hottest streak of his career and is proving some doubters wrong. If this were a winning team, he would be getting a ton of positive attention. There are still significant holes here, but he has improved.
  • Interior: D.J. Fluker, if you really zero in on him, has to be someone everyone admires. The guy plays his tail off and brings the blue collar, overly physical approach to the line that we all want to see here. Once he started at right guard, this OL as a whole started to perform better in the run game. His presence and ability to move defenders has been very impactful. John Jerry and Brett Jones shared the lowest grades along the OL this week, but even they still graded out on the average mark. Their pass blocking leaves a lot to be desired, especially on blitzes.

DEFENSIVE LINE

  • Ends: Jason Pierre-Paul had arguably the most physical hit of the day that jarred the ball loose out of Travis Kelce’s hands and into the arms of Damon Harrison. From a dead stop position, he launched himself into Kelce and sent the 260-pounder parallel to the ground. It was a hit that maybe 5 players in the NFL could make. I see plays like those and a few others where he tracks the ball carrier down on the back side and wonder why we don’t see him just dominate, flat out dominate. He had a very quiet game as a pass rusher. Olivier Vernon had one of his more disruptive games of the year, finishing with 3 QB pressures despite only playing 83% of the snaps due to a minor shoulder injury.
  • Tackles: It was good to see Damon Harrison out there after being carted off the field a week ago, although his snaps were a tad limited. He continues to be the best player on this defense, with both visible and hidden benefits. After a quiet game in San Francisco, Dalvin Tomlinson responded with an active game, finishing with 6 tackles. He certainly isn’t playing like a rookie. NYG has a good one here.

LINEBACKERS

  • With B.J. Goodson out again, Calvin Munson got the start. The undrafted rookie out of San Diego State finished with a career-high 12 tackles. He showed a good first step and good angles towards the action. The biggest plus with him, zero missed tackles.
  • Devon Kennard recorded another sack, his 2nd of the season. His versatility shines every week and I think he is one of the most underrated weapons on this defense who can really fit into any scheme. He has limitations, but he gets the job done. Jonathan Casillas wasn’t very active, as he is still struggling to find the consistency snap to snap when it comes to making quick reads and reactions. He is often late to the party.

CORNERBACKS

  • After being suspended 2 weeks ago, and one of the worst performances of his career last week in San Francisco, Janoris Jenkins came out and showed why he can rightfully be considered a top-10, maybe even top-5 CB in this league. He had a pass break up and a clutch interception that set the Giants up to take a 4th-quarter lead. His second interception was called back because of a penalty, but even that had to be admired because of the ball skills he displayed.
  • With Eli Apple sitting out because of a coach’s decision, Ross Cockrell got the start. The 4th-year veteran seems to be getting more comfortable in the system and his tools are something I always look for in NFL cornerbacks. He has size, he plays physical, and his hips can turn with ease. The confidence in his game has been taken to another level and I expect to see more and more improvement from here on out.

SAFETIES

  • Landon Collins led the team with 14 tackles. He has several big hits and a few third down stops that helped the Giants maintain field position in this low-scoring affair. Collins played his heart out with plus hustle grades throughout the entire game. His interception on the Kelce option-pass was a great reaction and even better read. He wasn’t fooled one bit. Solid game for Darian Thompson but the note that keeps popping up next to his name is a lack of presence and a lack of range. Watching the all-22 tape, it is apparent to me that his lack of range is a big  part of the reason why this defense struggles defending the pass in the middle of the field.

SPECIAL TEAMS

  • Aldrick Rosas: 2/2 – made 26 and 23. Missed 1 extra point. Rosas has made a habit of missing field goal attempts. His two this week went through the uprights, albeit they were very short. They were in clutch situations though. His missed extra point was a result of a gust of wind that would have knocked anyone’s kick flat.
  • Brad Wing: 6 Punts – 45.3 avg. It was a busy day for Wing and his 42.5 net was a season high. Very good game for him punting to one of the most dangerous PRs in the league.

3 STUDS

  • RT Chad Wheeler, S Landon Collins, WR Roger Lewis

3 DUDS

  • OG John Jerry, TE Evan Engram, LB Jonathan Casillas

3 THOUGHTS ON KC

  • This is why you don’t crown a team early in the year. After a 5-0 start including wins over NE and PHI, the Chiefs looked unstoppable on both sides of the ball. Some in the media start using the word Super Bowl but since then, they are 1-4. What happened? This is the NFL, that’s what happened. This happens every year and the overreactions regarding early wins and losses make several people look silly by season’s end. The Chiefs are not as bad as what they have showed recently, and I still expect them to be one of 3-4 teams in the AFC Championship run.
  • Travis Kelce is the best athlete in the NFL, all things considered. I have never seen a tight end that big and strong move that fast and quick. His ball skills are improving, as are his routes and blocking. I think it is safe to say he is the best tight end in the game. And I am scouting a tight end from a small school right now that reminds me exactly of him.
  • What does this team need to right the ship? Early in the year they were controlling the point-of-attack and running the ball down the defense’s throat. They stuck with the run time and time again. Andy Reid has done this in the past…and that is rely on the pass too much when a team is down. The instant Hunt’s carries went into the single digits, this team’s tailspin began. Easy solution if you ask me. Get Hunt the ball more often, then everything else will open up.

3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

  • As I have been saying, the discussion of McAdoo’s job is the easy conversation to bring up. But it doesn’t need to be a weekly thing. Let this thing play out the rest of the year, talk about all the stuff in January. Until then I know it can be tough to watch a losing team, but there are several players to watch and evaluate for next year. Top one being Chad Wheeler.
  • Tip of the cap to Janoris Jenkins and the intensity he played with. Either he looked in the mirror and decided to man up, or someone got in his ear. Jenkins was flying around putting his body on the line like we saw in the first three weeks. Maybe that team meeting where they watched the low-effort plays stuck it to him and if that is the case, good job by McAdoo. There have been a handful of players that have showed notable differences in effort-output, hopefully Eli Apple is next.
  • The two starting defensive ends on this team showed so much promise before the season and even though they flash here and there, they simply aren’t good enough. The 4-man pass rush is almost vital to defensive success in the NFL now, and the production coming from these two spots needs to be better. Both are on the fragile side, both are on the inconsistent side. It is a bad combination for the long term future and if they don’t flash more, DE may be at or near the top of their draft needs in the spring.
Nov 192017
 
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Roger Lewis, New York Giants (November 19, 2017)

Yes, Roger Lewis caught this pass! – © USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK GIANTS 12 – KANSAS CITY CHIEFS 9…
Heavy underdogs to the Kansas City Chiefs, the New York Giants pulled off the upset on Sunday afternoon at a very windy MetLife Stadium, winning 12-9 in overtime. With the victory, the New York Giants improved to 2-8 on the season.

The Chiefs actually out-gained the Giants in first downs (22 to 20), total net yards (363 to 317), net yards rushing (134 to 112), net yards passing (229 to 205), and time of possession (37:16 to 30:50). But turnovers were the great equalizer as the Chiefs threw three interceptions and the Giants one.

The Chiefs moved the ball 37 yards on their first possession, but punted. New York pulled out all of the stops on their first series as the Giants ran three trick plays, including a fake punt that picked up a first down and, unfortunately, a halfback pass by Shane Vereen that ended with an interception at the Chiefs’ 1-yard line. The Giants got the ball back seven plays later when defensive tackle Damon Harrison picked off a shovel pass at the Chiefs’ 35-yard line, returning it to the 26. Six plays after that, running back Orleans Darkwa scored from one yard out. However, place kicker Aldrick Rosas missed the extra point. The Giants led 6-0.

Kansas City responded with a 15-play, 61-yard drive that took over nine minutes off of the clock, but settled for a 31-yard field goal to cut New York’s lead in half with just over four minutes to play. Neither team could move the ball for the remainder of the first half and the Giants were ahead 6-3 at the break.

The Giants went three-and-out to start the third quarter. The Chiefs gained 33 yards and punted. New York put together a decent drive that gained 58 yards in 11 plays, but turned the ball over on downs on 4th-and-9 at the Chiefs’ 33-yard line. This opened the door for the Chiefs who drove 54 yards in seven plays to tie the game 6-6 early in the 4th quarter on a 31-yard field goal.

Both teams went three-and-out. After the Giants gained a couple of first downs and punted, the Chiefs turned the ball over when a trick-play pass by the tight end was intercepted deep by safety Landon Collins at the Giants’ 14-yard line. The Giants picked up one first down and punted again with just over four minutes to play in regulation. New York got the ball back four plays later when quarterback Alex Smith’s was intercepted at the Chiefs’ 40-yard line by cornerback Janoris Jenkins and returned 17 yards to the 23. Five plays later, Rosas kicked a 26-yard field goal to give the Giants a 9-6 advantage with 1:38 to play.

New York’s defense could not hold as the Chiefs drove 69 yards in nine plays and 97 seconds to tie the game on a 23-yard field goal with one second left on the clock.

The Chiefs received the ball to start overtime but were forced to punt after gaining one first down. The Giants then put the game away with a 10-play, 77-yard drive, the highlight being a spectacular 34-yard catch by wide receiver Roger Lewis, Jr. on 4th-and-5 down to the Chiefs’ 2-yard line. Two plays later, Rosas kicked the 23-yard field goal for the win.

Manning finished the game 19-of-35 for 205 yards, no touchdowns, and no interceptions. Wide receivers Roger Lewis (55 yards), Tavarres King (48 yards), and Travis Rudolph (34 yards) each had three receptions to lead the team. Orleans Darkwa gained 74 yards and one touchdown on 20 carries. Rookie Chad Wheeler started at right tackle.

Landon Collins led the defense with 14 tackles and an interception. Linebacker Calvin Munson had 12 tackles and linebacker Devon Kennard had the team’s lone sack. Damon Harrison and Janoris Jenkins each had interceptions as well.

Video highlights are available at Giants.com.

INACTIVE LIST AND INJURY REPORT…
Inactive for the game were wide receiver Sterling Shepard (migraine), offensive lineman Justin Pugh (back), linebacker B.J. Goodson (ankle), linebacker Kelvin Sheppard (groin), cornerback Eli Apple, quarterback Davis Webb, and offensive lineman John Greco.

POST-GAME REACTION…
Transcripts and video clips of post-game media sessions with Head Coach Ben McAdoo and the following players are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:

POST-GAME NOTES…
The Giants are 20-15-2 in regular-season overtime games since 1974, when the extra period was first played.

The Giants improved to 11-3 vs. the Chiefs, including 7-0 in home games.

Quarterback Eli Manning started his 209th consecutive regular-season game, breaking a tie with his brother, Peyton, for the second-longest streak by a quarterback in NFL history, behind Brett Favre’s 297 straight starts. It is the sixth-longest starting streak among all NFL players since the 1970 merger.

Manning engineered his 35th game-winning, regular-season drive (drives in the fourth quarter or overtime in which he led the Giants from a tie or deficit to win the game).

ARTICLES…

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
Head Coach Ben McAdoo and select players will address the media by conference call on Monday.

Nov 172017
 
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Game Preview: Kansas City Chiefs at New York Giants, November 19, 2017

THE STORYLINE:
To bastardize a line from a movie classic Becket: “Will no one rid us of this this interminable season?”

This is never-ending horror show… the NFL version of the Bataan Death March. It gets worse by the week yet we are only just over halfway through the season.

I may be dead wrong, but Ben McAdoo, his coaching staff, and many of the players signed their pink slips last week by getting blown out by the previously winless San Francisco 49ers. There is no excuse, none, for being that uncompetitive against one of the NFL’s worst teams. The question is does John Mara have the balls to hand a pink slip to Jerry Reese as well? And if not, does the Tisch family intervene?

You think these scenarios sound extreme? In the team’s 93rd season, the Giants are on course to have THEIR WORST season. The Giants have finished with two wins four times in team history. The 1966 Giants currently have the worst overall record, finishing 1-12-1. Do the 2017 New York Giants have another win in them? If not, the Giants will finish 1-15.  And this is a team that the franchise believed to be a Super Bowl contender. Talk about a complete and epic management failure! This is not all on the coaching staff. The current culture feels stale and needs a shake up.

THE INJURY REPORT:

  • OL Justin Pugh (back – out)
  • OL D.J. Fluker (knee – probable)
  • DE Jason Pierre-Paul (knee – probable)
  • DT Damon Harrison (ankle – questionable)
  • DT Dalvin Tomlinson (ankle – probable)
  • LB Devon Kennard (quad – questionable)
  • LB B.J. Goodson (ankle – out)
  • LB Calvin Munson (quad – probable)
  • LB Kelvin Sheppard (groin – doubtful)
  • CB Donte Deayon (ankle – probable)

NEW YORK GIANTS ON OFFENSE:
In the cesspool that is the Giants’ offense, there are two emerging bright spots: Evan Engram and Sterling Shepard. These are two building blocks. Pray for their health during the remainder of this meaningless season. But the Giants may be facing a total rebuild everywhere else:

  • Quarterback: As I’ve previously discussed, it is time to move on from Eli Manning. He may stick around one more season as a starter to serve as mentor to the new quarterback, but sticking with a quarterback who is approaching 37 makes no sense on a rebuilding ball club. The Giants will likely draft their replacement for Manning with a top three pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. Davis Webb? The Giants are not going to play him this year and the Giants can’t risk assuming he is the answer at QB going into 2018 and pass on a potential franchise QB with a top pick. For better or worse, they feel like they owe to Manning to not bench him for Webb. (And to be honest, because Webb has received virtually no practice snaps since being drafted, he’s not ready for any real game action).
  • Running Back: I keep saying this but the Giants are wasting snaps on Orleans Darkwa. Same with Shane Vereen. Ben McAdoo is trying to save his job and the jobs of his assistant coaches. The welfare of families are involved… it’s a tough situation. But Darkwa and Vereen are not the future of a rebuilding club. The team needs to get a better read on Wayne Gallman and Paul Perkins. Unfortunately, the team will probably head into the offseason with running back remaining a big question mark and the team parting ways with the two backs who will receive the bulk of the remaining play time. Stupid.
  • Wide Receiver: Re-signing Odell Beckham is not a given. He will demand to be the highest paid non-quarterback in the NFL. Is he worth it? Talent wise, probably, although one can point to the fact that the Giants haven’t won a lot of games despite his historic productivity. The bigger issue is his head. He’s not a “bad guy.” But is he a “winner”… that almost-indefinable intangible demonstrated by impact players who lift their entire team? Or is he a distraction? Also muddying the waters is that Beckham, from a marketing standpoint, is one of the few reasons to watch this team. He’s a legit superstar marquee player in the world’s biggest media market. That’s not lost on Mara and Tisch – who in the end, are running a business that seeks to make money. One thing to keep in mind is that with Manning likely coming off the books soon, allocating a significant chunk of the salary cap to Beckham becomes more tolerable. Aside from Beckham and Shepard, there isn’t much in the cupboard here. The Giants need to part ways with Brandon Marshall.
  • Tight End: Ironically, a year after fielding arguably the worst tight end unit in the NFL, this is the bright spot moving forward. Evan Engram, Rhett Ellison, and probably Jerell Adams are all keepers. On some teams, Matt LaCosse may be seeing more playing time.
  • Offensive Line: Here is probably the #1 reason why the Giants will be in full rebuild mode. There may not be ONE single keeper in this group. Perhaps Chad Wheeler and Adam Bisnowaty (the latter who struggled mightily in the preseason but who is still young). But that may be wishful thinking. Justin Pugh can’t stay healthy and based on his Twitter account seems obsessed with a big pay day. Weston Richburg has declined as a player since 2015 and is coming off a serious concussion. A year after the Giants gave him another big contract, the Giants need to part ways with John Jerry. Bobby Hart proclaimed himself the best right tackle in football but has proven to be the worst. D.J. Fluker is serviceable, but inconsistent. Brett Jones is just a guy and probably better suited to a reserve role. Ironically, as the Giants have gotten worse as a team, Ereck Flowers has gotten better. But as Sy’56 has pointed out, he has some tough opponents coming up. He may be the most important player to watch on offense for the remainder of the season. How many new starters do the Giants need on the offensive line after spending three premium picks on the position? The question is scary enough. But how scary is the potential answer?

NEW YORK GIANTS ON DEFENSE:
The defense has quit. And that is as much as an indictment on Steve Spagnuolo as it is on Ben McAdoo. That’s why both need to go. This will be yet another season where a Spagnuolo-led defense will finish near the bottom of the NFL. I don’t think 2007, 2008, and 2016 can save him from the performances of 2012 (Saints), 2015 and 2017 (Giants). The Giants’ defense gave up 31 points and almost 500 yards of offense to atrocious 49ers with a rookie quarterback. It’s not acceptable.

  • Defensive Line: Damon Harrison and Dalvin Tomlinson are the building blocks. The problem is Jason Pierre-Paul’s $62 million contract. In hindsight, re-signing JPP was a HUGE mistake. He’s a coach killer. The game isn’t important enough to him. Yet, if the Giants cut him, it will cost over $20 million against the cap. So the new coaching staff is probably stuck with him. Same story with Olivier Vernon (over $11 million in dead money if cut). The prayer here is a new coaching staff will light a fire under both of these two, but that may be pie-in-the-sky, wishful thinking. The good news is that Avery Moss appears to have an upside, but we need to see more. After all, we thought the same of Romeo Okwara last year and we saw how he didn’t pan out.
  • Linebacker: A complete mess. They can’t cover (historically bad against tight ends) or play the run. It’s time to part ways with Jonathan Casillas, Keenan Robinson, J.T. Thomas, Mark Herzlich, and most of the other no names. The hope here was that B.J. Goodson would turn out to be a viable linebacker, but he has been injury prone beyond belief and terrible in coverage. There may not be ONE KEEPER in this entire group. That’s unbelievable and an utterly damaging indictment on the personnel department on this team.
  • Defensive Backs: This is the group that has quit. And it’s clear as day to see. Janoris Jenkins and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie have both been suspended for not taking their jobs seriously. Landon Collins went from a “Defensive Player of the Year” candidate to a stiff. All three were legit Pro Bowl/All-Pro types a year ago. Eli Apple’s head doesn’t seem to be in the game. On paper, this is a group of players that most teams would die for. You can see it on the tape, the effort isn’t there (see last week’s dagger-in-the-heard 47-yard touchdown right before halftime). Yeah, it sucks when you are a 1-win team and dead halfway through the season. But you are being paid to play to YOUR potential, not sulk and act like a baby. Grow up! You think your jobs and future income are guaranteed? I hope you saved a good chunk of your current contracts because your options in the outside world are going to be limited. Clean up in aisle 5.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS:
I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this, but Tom Quinn needs to go. Aldrick Rosas and Brad Wing are clearly auditioning for the next coaching staff. I do hope they bring Rosas back to camp next year. He has tremendous ability and it is not unusual for a kicker to struggle a bit in his rookie season. The Giants only got one good year out of Dwayne Harris. That contract was another mistake.

FROM THE COACH’S MOUTH:
Head Coach Ben McAdoo on Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram: “Sterling is really emerging as a young leader for us. I like that about him. He’s a confident player. It’s good to see him get in his groove. He’s had to fight through so many things in training camp and here in the season with injuries, and before those he was really hitting his stride. So it’s good to see him hitting his stride again, and we have a lot of confidence in him. He’s one of our better players, and he’s willing to block for a receiver that plays in the slot. That has a big impact on our football team… (Engram is) a dynamic player in the pass game, he’s coming along as a blocker. He’s working on it, it’s important to him. There are some things he needs to clean up. But his work ethic, his passion and love for football is refreshing. Evan was named a team captain this week. First time I believe I’ve named a rookie team captain.”

THE FINAL WORD
So you don’t think it can get worse?